CLINTON — An early matchup with Davenport North is nothing the River Kings haven’t dealt with before. The rivalry has held recent favor for Clinton.
The River Kings opened up 2012 with a 35-21 win over the Wildcats, and among the past few Clinton wins was David Johnson’s historic five touchdowns on 11 touches performance in 2009.
But, Clinton coach Lee Camp isn’t taking chances.
“Last year was a really unique year, in my opinion,” Camp said of the 2-7 2012 River Kings. “We came in with high estimations for our success. We really thought we were going to contend in the top half of the conference. ... We still competed well, but we didn’t have the depth to win the close ones.
“This year, I think the players have taken advantage of that. When there were injuries we got people time to play. We’ve learned from mistakes.”
A win tonight would make for an extra special 2013 debut. The River Kings open at home to christen their brand new field turf at Coan Field. Before the game, Clinton High will induct its inaugural Athletes Hall of Fame class at 7 p.m.
The game against North is also the debut of “smarter” offensive and defensive schemes, Camp said. Clinton gave some snippets of its new playbook in a preseason scrimmage against Dubuque Hempstead. The River Kings have implemented a modified spread, and the backfield saw quarterback Eric Maddaison taking a bulk of his snaps in the shotgun. Tailback twins Alex and Dustin Caldwell usually accompanied the signal caller on either side, and the River Kings utilized several offensive-line pulls and shotgun draws to give playmakers the ball.
This is a scheme Camp said will aid a leaner offensive line than last year. He said the front five was healthy going into the opener, quicker and capable of absorbing high demands placed on them by the staff.
“We’re going to be a smarter team,” he said. “You won’t get by being a dumb football player this season. You’re going to see a (team) that’s pretty mobile. A lot of people moving around.”
Overall, the season opener is pivotal to starting the season off right. The River Kings’ goal is to make the playoffs, and it will be tough sledding through the Mississippi Athletic Conference if they open with a loss.
“We’re going to be competitive in every game, and our goal is to be in the top tier of the conference,” Camp said. “You always want to play that extra game or two to extend the season. That’s where we want to be.”